tv Lectures in History CSPAN January 4, 2015 12:30pm-1:47pm EST
>> throughout the weekend american history tv is featuring austin, texas. learn more at c-span.org/local content. you are watching american history tv. all weekend, every weekend, on c-span3. >> tonight on "q&a," the president and ceo of the national council of la raza, the civil rights and advocacy group, on hispanics in america and her compelling personal story. >> i had the great privilege of experiencing the american dream in this country. born in kansas. my parents actually came to this country in the very early 1950's. my parents came from mexico with no money and very little education. my dad had an eighth grade
education. my dad a fifth grade education. they were seeking better opportunities for their children. they work very hard, and sacrificed, like so many will do in this country, because they wanted a better promise for this country. they really taught us important values that have been our guide for me and my siblings, my six brothers and sisters. they taught us the importance of family, of faith, of community hard work, sacrifice, honesty, integrity. all of those were important values they shared with us. >> tonight at 8:00 eastern and pacific on q&a. >> next, brandeis university
professor jonathan tsarnaev talks about how industrialist henry ford founded and supported a newspaper which published anti-jewish articles. henry ford's international weekly, "the dearborn independent," published an article in 1920 describing the "international jew" as the world's foremost problem. the articles were later published as a series of books. this class is about an hour and 15 minutes. >> all right. good afternoon, everybody. last time, we looked broadly at the rise of hatred during world war i and we looked at immigration restriction, which was in some ways related to that, and a little bit about the activities of the ku klux klan and we spent a lot of time on the translation of the forgeries
known as "the protocols of the elders of zion." and we mentioned some of the anti-immigrant rhetoric connected with prohibition. what i want to do today is focus on the person who really did more than anyone else to fan the flames of anti-semitism in the 1920's, and that was none other than the famous american industrialist henry ford. henry ford is a great hero to many americans. there were lots of people who wanted henry ford to run for president in 1924. but as we will see, jews, for i think actually quite understandable reasons perceived henry ford to be an enemy.
now i trust many of you know at least something about henry ford. but let's give at least a little bit of background on henry ford. he is in exceedingly interesting person. he is born in a very small community. springwell township in michigan. today we would say he was good at the stem subjects. yes, he is good at mathematics and engineering, which in those days was mechanics, and very bad at reading and writing. he spends a little time and actually becomes a good friend of thomas edison, who also was not a great lover of the jewish people. he then spent a lot of time as a young person working to create an auto engine. you know, in your generation people work in their garage to make apple computers.
and if you have one of the original apple computers built in steve jobs's garage, it is worth an absolute fortune. but in henry ford's day, you people who were gifted worked in their sheds to make an automobile that would be cheap and that would really allow for what would become a transformation of the country. and henry ford succeeds in that. he, like lots of inventors, he has all sorts of false starts, but eventually he creates the model t, which -- what is important about the model -- does anybody know what is important about the model t? it was not the very first automobile after all. what really was significant about ford's model t? >> it was the first mass-produced automobile.
>> yeah, he is able -- it is just like with jobs. apple was not the first computer by a long shot. but what henry ford did, he made the automobile accessible to everyone. ah, the price drops. he sells model t's eventually for $290. and 15 million of them were sold. much like when computers dropped below a certain price. or i remember when only very wealthy people had cell phones. they were enormous things. you needed a whole suitcase to carry it around. and people had it to show off. and then cell phones got small. and it was exciting to people. henry ford, in other words put , the world on wheels.
and that was absolutely transformative. he is very important when one studies industrialization. he did not invent mass production, but he really demonstrates what mass production can accomplish. he popularizes mass production. there are a lot of other ideas. you know -- eight hours of work, eight hours of leisure, eight hours of sleep. all of -- he did not invent that either, but it is part of a philosophy that becomes associated with henry ford. he uses his wealth for various social causes, but the amazing thing is, and this is really where, i think, we will see his interest in jews, henry ford uses some of his money to
restore the good old days. you might imagine that an industrialist and inventor would not be so interested in the good old days, but henry ford absolutely was. so for example, he tries hard to revive square dancing. you know we would not associate , henry ford with that, but he thinks country fiddling and square dancing was much better for america than the newfangled music and what he considered were lascivious dances that were overtaking america in the early 20th century. he doesn't believe in pasteurized milk. i don't -- don't try that at home. but he thinks the old ways of getting milk were much better,
and so on and so forth. he restores farmhouses. he loves the mcguffey readers. anyone know what the mcguffey reader is? anybody hear of mcguffey? maybe if you went to school in the 19th century. [laughter] william mcguffey really produced a series of graduated readers. they were meant to introduce reading to young people, and the goal -- it was graduated. so every grade had different levels of reading. and the reading was supposed to be at a high level and there were illustrations and so on. many, many people who study in the 19th century, especially at more rural schools, use mcguffey's readers.
and there are still places -- i gather that none of you come from such places -- that try and teach the mcguffey reader systems. there are some evangelical schools. they believe this is really the best way to teach reading and to teach elevated literature. the truth of the matter is, some -- maybe i will bring it in at some point. some of the early mcguffey readers -- there are different editions -- contain rare anti-jewish material. there is a dispute as to whether henry ford himself studied those early readers and if that influenced him. some of the bible readings selected were new testament readings that cast jews in a bad light. one of the mcguffey readers had material from "the merchant of venice" which cast jews in a bad light. and so on.
in any case, whether or not that really was a central influence on ford, it tells you something. -- something about him that he wanted to bring back these great old-fashioned textbooks of the good old days. that, to his mind, was what america needed. henry ford in 1915 is going to promote peace. some people think he was pro-german. but he certainly was a pacifist. and one of the things he pays for is what is known as the peace ship, with a jewish woman named rosika schwimmer, and the -- who is also involved in this
peace ship that is supposed to sail around and promote peace during world war i. many people ridicule the peace ship and ridiculed the pacifism that it was promoting. some will argue later that ford who quarreled with rosika schwimmer, was going to move from her to generalize about all jews. certainly ford was unhappy about the bad publicity he received connected with the peace ship and all that went with it. and the reason ford was worried about the bad publicity was actually p.r., public relations,
was absolutely central to the success of henry ford, and he was one of the very early people to understand how important public relations was. and some of his public relations activities are very famous. so, for example in 1914, he distributes -- he announces and then he does it -- that he is , and gets enormous praise -- that he is going to distribute profits to workers, people who worked at ford motor company. they got the unheard of sum of five dollars a day. the public life of henry ford, meaning the public relations aspect of his life, was quite significant. he wanted newspapers to report favorably on him.
he wanted really to be viewed in a very positive way. that was very important to the company. there is a very good book by david lewis, on "the public life of henry ford," where you can see how significant this is to ford. and that may help to explain why ford eventually decides that he is going to have his own newspaper. and he purchases "the dearborn independent." where is dearborn? it is still there. >> it is like, about 35 minutes outside detroit? >> yes. dearborn, in michigan, nearby detroit, so it was local.
there is a significant ford installation in dearborn. ford buys the "the dearborn independent." what is the great advantage of owning your own newspaper? it is not a hard question. >> you control what the paper says about you? >> yes, exactly. if you want to control your own message, it's helpful to own your own newspaper. and he has another great advantage. yes, it is called "the dearborn independent," but it is not just for people in dearborn. what is his great advantage? how can he distribute this paper? what does he have? yes? >> he has cars. >> he has cars and if you want to sell cars, you need, then and now -- >> [indiscernible] >> dealerships? >> dealerships. you've got car dealerships. and they are beholden to you because if they do not do what you say, you will not let them have any cars and they will not be able to sell them, and they won't make any money.
but he has a whole string of car dealerships and all of those car dealerships now have to carry and distribute "the dearborn independent." so it is going to be a much more important newspaper then had it just remained a very local newspaper in dearborn. and he buys this paper, and sets it up, gets going in 1919. and it is not -- it is called "the dearborn independent," but honestly it is not independent at all. it is a free country. call it what you like. independent. but actually it was totally dependent on the ford motor company. and not surprisingly, if you were to read a run of the paper, its views and the views of henry ford are remarkably similar.
that should not surprise us. that would be true of any newspaper that reflects the views of its owners. but the paper is very much in favor of pacifism. it likes prohibition. meaning that it is in favor of limiting alcohol, which ford thought was wicked. it supports all sorts of old traditions. one of the most interesting articles, and the title of the article tells you a lot about the outlook of henry ford. is an editorial that was entitled "the old ways were good." now what is the irony? i mean, it is an astonishing irony. yeah. >> ford was modernizing america.
he made a car, and he is saying the old ways were better. >> this is exactly right. there is nobody who did more to bring new ways to america, to transform america, than henry ford in his day. the automobile was one of the most transformative inventions in the 20th century. the fact that people could travel significant distances easily was enormously important. and, indeed, very rapidly, horses disappeared from the streets of the city and automobiles replaced them, and we then need to have highways and the like. nothing transformed america in those days more than the automobile. yes? >> to think that henry ford built the, you know, the ford
motor automobile to modernize america? or was that kind of an accident and he took advantage? >> oh, he's certainly continue to support the automobile. he was not sorry that automobiles existed. i mean, it's an interesting question. what you're really asking is, was he aware of this irony? or is it only something we see? my sense is, he is not aware of it. he is a country person. he remembered small towns. he likes small towns. it did not occur to him that nobody had done more to change america from the old ways to the new ways than he himself. and one of the lessons is that one can be a great agent of change and be totally oblivious to the changes that one has in fact brought about.
if one looks, there is a whole group in this period that are anti-modernists. you know we think of this era as , the spread of modernity. and so on. but there were still a lot of people who opposed it. but ford illustrates both anti-modernism and anti-urbanism. in the 20th century, the city is going to become very significant. the truth is, and is, and this will be important as we turn to jews, the jews are very much associated with american cities. jews tend to be urban. but henry ford, even though he lives near a city, he is really a champion of old, rural
america. to him, much like to thomas jefferson before him, all of america's virtues were connected with rural america. and he -- he very much was opposed to the very cities where so many of his automobiles would be sold. so, what's interesting to look at is that anti-semitism is going to bring together a lot of the themes that ford champions. that is to say, jews, to his mind, are symbols of modernity are symbols of urbanization.
jews, to his mind, were opponents of prohibition, and that was largely correct. a lot of immigrants disliked prohibition. there is a wonderful new book on jews and the liquor trade called -- entitled "jews and booze." very good title. "jews and booze" by marnie davis. it gives us a full view of jews in the liquor trade. ford had some dim awareness of this. but he certainly knew that jews were opposed to prohibition. and one can really see how jews begin for him to reflect the antithesis of many things he believed in. not necessarily many of the things he did, but many of the things he most believed in. now i said earlier that writing
and reading are not things that henry ford excelled in. and what does that suggest about "the dearborn independent?" especially when you remember that this guy was simultaneously head of the ford motor company. what does it suggest? >> he has somebody else writing it. >> exactly. do not for a minute believe henry ford did all of the writing or indeed any of the writing. -- the writing for "the dearborn independent." it does not mean he did not oversee the writing or know about it. excuse me. it does mean he employed other people to do it for him. -- to do most of the writing for him. and we know quite a lot about some of the people who worked for ford. yeah? >> was this ghostwriting? did they claim it was by him? >> i suppose you could call it ghostwriting, meaning very often
these were people who wrote things in ford's name, but he did not himself write them. later, ford would claim that in some cases he did not know what appeared in "the dearborn independent." that seems quite unlikely to most people. some of the articles in "the dearborn independent" certainly are signed by other people. but in any case, most of the articles that are those we are going to focus on in "the dearborn independent" were written by a man named william j. cameron. and cameron is part of a very interesting little group called the anglo israelites. anybody by chance know anything -- ever hear of the anglo
israelites? no? the anglo israelites -- and remember when we talked about race in america -- the anglo israelites believed that anglo-saxons were the real heirs to the jews, and people who call themselves jews were usurpers. in other words, this was a way to square the circle by saying that the master race is really the anglo-saxons. they are the heirs to the jews. and these pesky jews who now exist, they are not real jews at all. there is a long tradition in the 20th century of people who argue that contemporary jews are not
really heirs to those jews of the bible. in one version they are hussars who converted to judaism. there are a whole series of these stories. the important thing was that for cameron, it was an article of religious faith that he was the true jew, and the jews he saw in america were usurpers. and he believed, as anglo israelites did, the anglo israelites believed there were two people really vying to be the chosen people. the anglo-saxons and the jews, and it was essential for the good of civilization for which group to win? >> the anglo-saxons. >> yeah, that the anglo-saxon should win.
and the -- this was not the only anti-semite -- a word they would not have minded. it is not that we are imposing that word on them. some of the people who work on the "the dearborn independent" clearly viewed themselves as anti-semites. they would not mind being known as anti-semites. and indeed we know that ford's own wife, clara, didn't like jews too much. ernest liebold, another ford associate, does not like jews. and so on. we reach here the 1920's. just in terms of the economics of the auto industry, the 20's -- 1920's are not a very good year -- not a really good decade
for henry ford. and the reason was that he was facing very significant competition. and some have argued that indeed he began searching for enemies. sometimes when times -- [coughs] excuse me. sometimes when times are bad people search for enemies. people to blame for their troubles. whether or not that is the reason, it is worth remembering, in that it will also shape the way jews respond, these are tough times for ford. we also know -- and this brings us back to "the protocols of the elders of zion" that we looked at -- russian royalists, meaning
those who supported the tsar had actually brought to ford and cameron, some of these people surrounding ford, "the protocols of the elders of zion," and they had persuaded ford the overthrow of the tsar was the responsibility of whom? >> the jews. >> right. and this too is part of what shapes henry ford. in any case, whatever the psychological or economic reason, ford begins a series called "the international jew" on may 2, 1920. now, step back and think about that for a moment. you have got a newspaper that is
being distributed, somewhere between a quarter and a half a million copies are distributed of every issue. and suddenly it has an expose on "the international jew." and when the articles are in publication, there are eventually going to be 91 of them. 91 weeks. but periodically, ford claimed people asked for reprints of the series. and what is true of newspapers then and now? are newspapers things that people keep?
>> no. >> no, you wrap fish in them and so on. he wanted to make sure that they will be preserved. so after he produced the newspapers, every few months every 20 articles, he would gather together the newspapers and he would produce these little books. i only own two of them. there were four of them that were produced. that brought together these articles. now i was very lucky, because a copy that i managed to procure included this little note that reads "to librarian, this copy of the international jew: the world's foremost problem is for your reading table. please accept it with our compliments. the dearborn publishing company. now what do we learn from this?"
>> he was sending them to libraries for free and encouraging people to read them. they weren't being requested necessarily. >> he sent them free. he was a very wealthy man. he believed in this cause. please take care of these. they are irreplaceable. he believed they should get maximum publicity, and the way what he did, he knew about public relations. he knew how to get it done. he sent free copies to every library in america and these were very, very cheaply produced books. why do you think he produced them cheaply? why are we interested that he produced them cheaply?
the fact that they were very cheap meant what? >> he wanted everyone to have access to them. >> yes. this is not a book for the elite. anybody could afford to get the four volume book of henry ford. and he is sending free copies to many, many people. and in fact, every ford showroom had these books. this will help you understand why jews refused to buy ford products in those days. because the publications and the automobiles were closely linked. i gave you some materials,
photocopied from these books. the table of contents. take a look at them. and tell me -- you know, what we learn. even from the very title. what do we make of this title? some of you have it -- i would start this way. what you make of the title? yes? >> "the international jew: the world's problem." it is not only are they a problem in america, but jews are everywhere and everywhere they are causing havoc? >> absolutely right. the very title. the international jew. and stated as a declarative. this does suggest certain
elements of influence from the protocols of the elders of zion. but not only is it the international jew, but in 1920 what is the international jew, according to the cover of the book? >> the world's foremost problem. >> the world's foremost problem. yes. not the flu epidemic. not warfare. which killed millions and millions of people. not warfare. not the arms race. not economic problems. the world's foremost problem, he declared, and he did not put a question mark there. was the international jew. now take a look. i have given you, i think, on the next page, the preface. is there anything you learn?
>> [indiscernible] it says that the jews have control over the news that america reads? >> again, one of the great ironies. here is a man working very hard to shape coverage of himself and who has bought a newspaper and distributed it in the hundreds of thousands, and nevertheless he believes the autocratic direction of the very news that the american people read is all due to the jews. good. what else? yeah? >> in the preface, he is talking about the jewish question. [indiscernible] >> it is good. and indeed, the term "the jewish question" is going to be much discussed in this era. if you go to very old libraries, you will find that the jewish question was a subject matter.
somebody cleverly said the jewish question is a non-jewish question. henry ford did a great deal to elevate the idea that there was a jewish question all over the world and in america. and that this question, which really not so much a question as a problem. and that needed to be on the agenda of the american people.
anything else that people see in this? yeah? >> what exactly is the jewish question? >> well, anybody, what do you think he thought was the jewish question? and think back to the protocols of the elders of zion. it's not too easy to define. does anybody have a sense, what he thought the problem was? take a look here. a very important sentence in his preface. the international jew and his satellites, as the conscious enemies -- conscious -- enemies of all that anglo-saxons mean by civilization. i mentioned this was anglo israelite thinking, but the
jewish problem as he saw it was really the rising number of jews -- were the number of jews rising? the 1920's, before immigration restrictions. so, you still had hundreds of thousands of jews coming into the country, and from his perspective, and indeed from the perspective of many who viewed america in racial terms, the anglo-saxons were under attack and in this case, from his perspective, this was a real war between anglo-saxons who he defines as good and jews, and jews are really to blame for everything he viewed as bad. that is why i wanted you to take
a look at the table of contents here. i have given you two. the first table of contents from volume one is the international jew, because it is talking in part about what goes on outside of the country. the jewish world problem. it is very much, as you can see, take a look at chapter 10 -- what is chapter 10 of volume one? >> [indiscernible] >> now, anybody have a sense why he doesn't -- even though wikipedia says he reprints the protocols, but what
he is doing is not actually reprinting the protocols. in some ways he is publicizing. why didn't he reprints the protocols? >> they weren't well written? >> they weren't well written. they are in translation. they are hard to understand. they are vague. they are generalized. maybe this is not going to get people riled up. what he does is take the protocols, but actually apply them to day-to-day situations that people did know about, and he would say, this is an example
of what the protocols are talking about so that many chapters will begin with the protocols, or have a line or two from the protocols, and then go further. take a look. what else do you see, just looking at the contents of volume one, which as i said, is the international volume, and then we will move to volume two, which is jewish activities in the united states. but what kinds of things is he talking about, if you read no further -- we will read further. not probably today. but if you read no further than the table of contents, what kinds of things would you learn? ok, michelle? yeah? >> like you said, it kind of looks like the jews have their hands in everything. >> give me an example. >> all the things going on in
russia, the world press, magazines, ruining farms, the recent world war. i think it becomes kind of clear, the pattern and the title. the international jew. it kind of goes back to, like, the old -- like the old idea that jews around the world are somehow connected and part of this really large conspiracy. the international jew means that jews have been able to distribute this plan that has been concocted. >> i think that is exactly right. if you were to ask, is there a definite world jewish program that exists -- his answer, it will not surprise you, is yes. others argue that jews are responsible for world war i.
everything bad is blamed on the jews, even though there was no jewish country, and none of the leaders -- franz ferdinand was not jewish. on and on. you begin to argue the jews stood behind all of these people, and argument very much taken from the protocols of zion. then we see the idea connected to the red scare of the time. what are they really worried about? and here are of course it was easier to give details. what are they worried about? yes? >> the communists are going to overthrow america. >> good. exactly. the fear of bolshevism, as he puts it.
the communists are taking over in russia. now were there jewish communists? no question about it. undoubtedly, trotsky, of course was quite famous. lenin, we now know, although it was hidden by the communists, he had significant jewish roots, as the new book shows. that did not mean all jews were communists. a certain number of communists are jews does not mean all jews are communists. nevertheless, for the reader of
"the dearborn independent," here was another problem they could blame on jews. then we moved to the second, which is entitled "jewish activities in the united states." and -- and then again, take a look at the table of contents, and we will go back and look at what we might learn in a second. but let's take a look at the table of contents. just what do you learn from the table of contents? yes? >> one thing i noticed, they think the jews have a lot more power than they probably did at this time -- >> give me an example. >> [indiscernible] >> good. by the way it is in the protocols of the elders of zion -- the real fear that jews are in hiding or secretly in control of many aspects of american and indeed world life.
but they are experts in doing what? take a look at the very first item. what are they experts in? >> [indiscernible] >> what's that? concealing. now let's understand how conspiracy -- this is true of all conspiracy theories. there is a conspiracy theory that blames the jews. you then say, gee, i don't see jews running things. and the answer is? >> [indiscernible] >> it is concealed. no wonder you can't see it. can anybody negate that argument?
jews are visible. it's jews. if i don't see it, well, it is concealed. and this is quite typical of conspiratorial claims of all kinds. the same was true of people who thought that the masons in the 19th century controlled everything or the catholics controlled it. but there is always the part that is visible, and then the sense of, how can you possibly see it? they are concealing it. it's going on in hiding. the fact that you do not see it is itself part of the conspiracy, and that is very much the case here. what kind of a world -- and this is of course what worries jews so much. they come to america to be part of america. they did not want to continue to exist in a a european sense where they are a separate
people, kept apart. literally kept apart. what kind of a world is henry ford thinking of here? >> he says that jewish rights clash with american rights. jews are not conforming to american culture. they will not melt. they can't exist in america. they have to tear it apart. >> either it is a battle of jews versus non-jews, or as michelle says, he believes they want to change america. and that means he's got an answer for why america has shifted. all of these innovations and indeed -- take a look in the middle here. what is another innovation he doesn't like? >> movies. >> movies.
they are obscene. they are portraying wicked values. by the way, movies have been portraying wicked values since the beginning of movies in the country. but who is to blame for that? the jews. that is not to say that jews have no -- there were jews in the film industry, but he suddenly is able to blame jews for yet another element he doesn't like and what makes this so very frightening -- much more frightening in some ways than the protocols of the elders of zion, because the protocols of the elders of zion were so vague.
what's going on here? >> he is showing specifics. >> he is offering specifics. and people can read the specifics and say, oh. the specifics are right. the generalization must be right. that is always a danger when you generalize from an example. just because so-and-so is a jew certainly does not mean that all jews are like so-and-so. but very much the argument that he puts through here, and as we go down here, we can see that he is worried about what is being taught in schools. again, the sense, and that brings us back to mcguffey. the public schools are no longer teaching the old values that they should preach and used to
preach and did preach when he studied, back when he was growing up. instead because of jews, that the school curricula is being changed. and again, very much talking about the jewish question. now let's take a look just at the preface here. because he does something quite interesting. that again is quite common in conspiratorial writing.
take a look at the second paragraph especially. what's going on there? yeah? >> i'm sorry. it looks like jewish people have tried to refute the articles but he is defending his articles, saying they have not shown facts to refute them. >> if we were in a debate here -- >> he is casting suspicion on them because they refute it he says that makes them more suspicious. >> they can't win. this is a tactic used in debate. i do not know if any of you have studied debate. what is this going on or what are you trying to do in terms of debating tactics here?
in this paragraph? the articles thus far printed remain unanswered. they have been denounced and misrepresented, but not answered. a favorite evasion of jewish editors is to say that the statements about the jewish people can be said about any race and that no rays could refute the statements with fact. but these statements have not been made about any other race nor could there be. what is going on? what is the tactic? anybody? so, what you are trying to do is really disarm opponents in advance by saying, oh, they are going to say a, b, c, and d, and
then of course when they say it, that is what we said you would say. you make it impossible to respond. and what he talks about "unanswered," and of course there are many answers, but how does he define those answers? second sentence. they are not answers. they are what? they are evasions, denunciations, misrepresentations. obviously the people who made them did not view them that way. so, you ought to be aware this is very common in propaganda.
and we will see it again, where people will try hard to prevent responses by, in a sense telling you in advance what the opposition will say, in the hopes that they will then be disarmed from saying so. and that is very much what is going on here. it is, of course, very interesting that jews are defined here as a separate race. we have talked about that. this is an era where jews were often seen as a race apart, much like the hungarians, the poles the russians, the scotch irish and so on. i think some of the responses skewed the language of race, but others were prepared to accept
the language of race. >> if any jews read the international jew and were not observant or religious and thought that other jews were really like this? >> i'm not sure the issue was really religious. in other words, i'm not sure someone would read this and think religious jews are this way and irreligious jews are that way. indeed, what is the essence of race? >> that is everyone. it does not matter -- >> it is in your genes. it does not matter whether you are religious or irreligious. but the question is a very important one, which is how do you respond to this? and actually the american jewish community had a very difficult time with that. what would we do? if we called a meeting and a very famous person started issuing anti-semitic articles, a
whole series that was widely publicized. what would be some of the possibilities in terms of responding? what would be some of the arguments? we talked about this at the very beginning of the course. ways of responding to anti-semitism. even if you don't remember, what kind of things might one do? >> [indiscernible] the jews went straight to the government. >> ok, so some people might have argued, let's try to shut down this newspaper. let's try to prevent hate speech. which is what this is. from being distributed. it actually in some ways is a very contemporary question all over the world. how should one deal with hate speech? what do some countries feel about hate speech?
yeah? >> [indiscernible] >> good. and various forms of hate speech are illegal. actually, in egypt, any criticism of the government now recently was considered hate speech and banned. what about in america? what is the problem? >> the first amendment. >> right. so, the notion of free press and free speech has made it difficult to ban hate speech. how did louis brandeis think one should respond to hate speech? does anybody know? his idea was the proper response was more speech. there was a significant dispute in jewish circles. if you had been there, what are some things you might have said? what might one do in the face of hate speech?
but jacob schiff was very nervous about taking on an industrialist like henry ford who a lot of people thought was a hero and should be president. his sense was maybe let's not do anything. let's ignore it. if we give it publicity, it will only make it worse, said he. and that was a very powerful voice not to respond. do you think everybody agreed with that? why not? what is the problem with not responding? yes. >> probably just sit there and take it. and also, if you don't refute it, that is kind of like saying that it is true. >> exactly. not to respond is to suggest i can't respond, so naturally
there were people that were unhappy. you can certainly see in newspapers and elsewhere various kinds of responses. although they don't quite mention henry ford by name, but the american jewish yearbook devotes a whole issue of the yearbook to responding to charges that began with henry ford. everything from the idea that jews are dishonest because on the day of atonement, the first service of yom kippur, they say our vows are not vows. and this was taken to be, well they admit it. so the yearbook writes a long article about the service and what it is really about and so on.
you have jewish responses to communism. what is the problem which the yearbook admits? how many americans do you think read the american jewish yearbook? not so many. yes, it was in many libraries. but that really was, i think written for the jews you were talking about who did not know how to answer, who really were uncertain. but many jews said henry ford's allies are not people simply misinformed and once we give
them the truth they will change their ways. this was an organized group opposed to jews. what other options did people have? >> a lot of people boycotted. >> then you had, let's really make them pay for this. this is hatred against a group. well, let's respond. there is a danger, which is what? what has henry ford been saying about jews? they control. they are a group. if you stage a boycott, that almost sounds like you are playing into his hands. on the other hand, there were plenty of people who said i will not give any of my money to this man. indeed, there were some jewish dealers of henry ford's, ford
dealers who were jewish who gave up selling fords and so on and many jews who would not purchase a ford. yeah. >> how many jews were not buying fords? was it affecting profit? were there enough people not buying? >> it is a very hard question to answer. the reason it is a hard question to answer is that there were lots of reasons why people were buying other cars in the 1920's. there were carmakers who begin to offer choices of colors.
henry ford famously said in the beginning could have any color you wanted as long as it was black. mass production, the whole point of mass production was you made every car the same way. so how many of the people who did not buy fords were not buying fords because they decided chrysler or general motors or whatever were better cars, more to their liking? and how many of them were specifically trying to hurt ford in the pocket book? that is hard to know. there are some indications that some of the people around ford did believe, as we move on in time, that the anti-semitic campaign was a great drag on the company, a diversion from selling cars, needlessly antagonized consumers, and that was why they wanted to see it ended. i don't know if any of you are taking courses in business. but most business schools don't suggest that you antagonize part of your customer base, insult him, say you are a danger to america. that is not the best way of selling goods to people. you try and make them feel good,
welcome, and important, and so on. that tends to be a more successful way of selling goods. i don't think anybody can absolutely put a number on what it meant. what do you think all of this material? how do you think it affected jews? imagine you are living in that period of time and one of the most famous and most respected men in america, he is like gates or jobs today, someone who
changed america, who everyone respects, was worth millions and millions of dollars, who made their lives easier. henry ford has come out against the jews. how do you think the jewish community felt? >> not particularly safe. everything in these writings like everything can be attributed to jews, so if jews are involved with anything it is a lose-lose. if they are involved in it, they are, you know, helping to keep up these ideas. for a lot of these things, they are not making a living because they have control over every sort of occupation. >> absolutely right. the jewish community in the 20's was deeply nervous.
that is always a hard thing to prove. i will try and another class to bring in some material that shows just how unhappy and nervous they were. but it is not hard to imagine. here is a man regularly publishing attacks. what made it so difficult and hard to respond to was that so many of the attacks followed the system where some pieces of evidence might be right about a particular jew, but the generalization from the particular to the general was really where the mistake was. nevertheless, a lot of people
were prepared to generalize from the individual who was being described to the general. now there were people who really felt one had to fight henry ford. some wanted to fight him in law courts. as we will see, that does eventually happen. eventually, one of the people ford writes about sues him. that is going to have a big impact. there were others. some of them are not easy to document. but there is this report that william fox of 20th century fox, william fox in hollywood threatened he would make films about accidents with the model t that would scare everybody away
from the model t. whether it is actually so or not, i can't tell you. you know, others simply would attack ford, ignorant ford maybe a good inventor but he really does not know what he is talking about in these areas and so on. the "chicago tribune" called in the 1922 and ignorant idealist and ford sued for $1 million. that was a lot of money. it is still a lot of money, but it was much more money in those days, for defamation. they put him on the stand. the lawyer asked him a lot of
questions. it turned out he was kind of ignorant of lots of things. [laughter] and ford was eventually awarded six cents in damages, and that was deeply embarrassing to henry ford. obviously, people who did not like ford were very happy at that tactic. it also explained ford, after that explains in 1922, he never
wanted to appear on the stand again. i don't know if you have ever had the misfortune of being on the stand. it is easy to be made by the other side to look rather foolish, rather hard if you are not practiced to look great. anyway, they had an easy time. he was not a man of broad intellect. that is why he was able to fall for all sorts of conspiracy theories. there is no particular reason why a genius industrialist who is also a genius at creating mass-produced cars is necessarily an expert on all world affairs. that is a complete fallacy. anymore than someone who is an expert at world affairs would necessarily be a good inventor. i have no idea if henry kissinger can knock in a nail.
no one would expect he would be able to do that. it was strange to think that just because someone was an industrialist who must be a world-famous expert on everything. there are unusual moments in the ford affair. one of the most unusual was when henry ford, in the midst of printing these articles, sent a gift, as he regularly did, to detroit's famous reformed rabbi franklin, leo franklin. in the middle of a series of anti-semitic articles, what do you think rabbi franklin did when he got a free car from henry ford? he returned it. "you must have the wrong person here. you have just accused jews of all sorts of things.
how can you offer me a gift?" apparently, henry ford was deeply surprised. i am talking about the jews, i'm not talking about you. even though this is humorous to us, it does remind us of an important theme in the scholarship of anti-semitism which we talked about early on the mythical jew and the jew next door. to henry ford, rabbi franklin is the jew next door. he is highly respected honorable, important religious leader, i want to be on good terms with him. i live in detroit. he is an important figure. i will send him a car. of course, from rabbi franklin's point of view, if you're writing all these negative things about jews, then i side with them. but it is an interesting example
of how i can't be an anti-semite, my best friend is a jew. here you have rabbi franklin the jew next door. then you have the mythical jew. i would like those books back, please. the international jew that -- that he is writing about here. that is a moment to me that ford really did have this tension between the mythical jew and the jew next door.